The P117.7-million Sheriff’s Trust Fund (STF) in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) has not been used since its inception in 2004 apparently because of red tape.
In its 2012 Audit Report on the Supreme Court, the Commission on Audit (COA) disclosed this week that court sheriffs who are supposed to be recipients of the P117.7-million STF do not avail of such benefit because of the tons of paperwork and complicated processes required to get their share from the fund.
“Process servers and sheriffs would rather shell out money out of their own pockets than deal with the complicated paper work in requesting expense fund or filing reimbursement,” the COA report read.
The STF was created in 2004 through Amended Administrative Circular 35-200 and is funded by the P1,000 fee paid before the clerk of court by every person or entity who files a case before a Regional Trial Court (RTC) or a Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) anywhere in Metro Manila to defray the cost of serving court processes, notices, orders, summonses and similar documents.
If the initial P1,000 turns out to be not enough to cover such expenses for the case, the plaintiff or the petitioner will be required to make an additional deposit.
On the other hand, the plaintiff should be reimbursed if his or her P1,000 deposit exceeded the expenses for court processes involving the case that he or she filed.
“Plaintiffs and petitioners were also not adequately informed that the fees they deposited are refundable to them once the case is concluded,” COA said.
Of the P117.7 million STF, P37.35 million came from Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC)/Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), while Quezon City RTC was the second biggest contributor with P18.87 million.
Pasay City courts came in third with P18.26 million, followed by Pasig City (P14.69 million), Mandaluyong City (P7.04 million), Makati City (P5.676 million), Caloocan City (P3.28 million), Valenzuela City (P2.48 million), Parañaque City (P2.29 million) and Las Piñas City (P2.14 million).
The rest of the STF contibutors are Muntinlupa City (P2.05 million), Taguig City (P1.22 million), Marikina City (P1.13 million), Malabon City (P541,270.00), San Juan City (P315,750.00), Navotas City (P270,107.00) and Pateros town (P112,842.00).
COA recommended that the High Court implement policies that will encourage sheriffs and process servers to avail of the STF.
It pushed for a general inventory of the collections so as to enable the courts to reimburse litigants who have balance in their deposits to the trust fund.